Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja on the release of the Finnish hostages

I am extremely delighted to know that the prolonged ordeal of Seppo Fränti ja Risto Vahanen has ended and that all the hostages taken captive on the island of Sipadan have been released.

The shooting incident which took place during the release operation demonstrates how dangerous the situation has been. During these months I have kept hoping for the best but also prepared myself for the worst.

I thank the governments of France and Germany as well as South Africa for cooperation and coordination of efforts which has been close and confidential on all levels in the Philippines and between the capitals.

I thank all the negotiators involved in efforts to secure the release of the hostages and particularly Libya for its constructive role of cooperation and invaluable input in concluding the negotiations.

My participation at the reception ceremony in Tripoli is being investigated. I will also contact my counterparts in Germany and France.

Taking hostages for whatever reason is always a crime against humanity. The hostage crisis in Jolo will, no doubt, provide the international community with plenty to think about with regard to finding new ways to combat international terrorism in order to allow people to live, work and travel freely without having to fear for terrorist attacks as innocent bystanders.

The security situation in the Philippines is poor and I hope that Finns will try to avoid situations which could put them in danger.

Poverty, human rights violations and unsolved religious, ethnic and other conflicts provide a feeding ground for terrorism and that also applies to the Philippines.

In the spirit of the dialogue at the UN Millennium Summit the international community must find means to solve these problems.